News grabs - Triple M Darling Downs

JOURNALIST:

... for Toowoomba today. Can you run us through it?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

We have an exciting announcement, and thanks to so many governments coming together, we've

finally got the Inland Rail with all the intergovernmental agreements. So Queensland today is signing up to the dotted line for the Inland Rail. This is going to mean a $7 billion boost for Queensland. 7,200 jobs for this fine state, and one of the biggest advocates for, of course, jobs growth in Queensland and in this area in particular is John McVeigh, my friend and colleague, the Member for

Groom. So delighted to be with him today as we sign this historic agreement.

JOURNALIST:

And what does it mean for Toowoomba specifically?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well what it means is that the Inland Rail is going to be built, of course. What it means is that the

goods going to the Port of Brisbane, indeed going to Melbourne and going elsewhere up and down that 1700 kilometre corridor of commerce, are going to get there faster, are going to get there at far less cost. So the Inland Rail - originally predicated, originally designed to have a $10 a tonne saving for all the goods on it - is now going to be potentially right up to $94 a tonne saving, and an average of $76 a tonne saving. So whether goods are coming from port inland or inland to port, it's going to mean that they're going to be done cheaper, more efficiently, faster, and that's going to be savings for the farmers for small business people. And of course, here a growing community on top of the second range crossing, it just means that there's going to be more jobs in the construction phase, more jobs going forward, three free trade agreements signed in the Federal Parliament just this week. And we all know that trade means jobs, we all know that more trade means more jobs. And so for Toowoomba, this is a really exciting day.

JOURNALIST:

Do we have specifics on just how many jobs for Toowoomba?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

The actual build for the inland rail for the Queensland side won't start until about 2022. So at the moment, they're doing the builder construction Narromine to Parkes in New South Wales, so that's the first section. But as we get closer, it's going to mean hundreds of jobs. I mean, we know with the second range crossing that there were so many jobs that were created right here in Toowoomba, but this is going to mean hundreds of jobs, because they'll be staying here, they'll be accommodated here. And as with the second range crossing as I was told, many of those people who came here specifically for that project decided to stay. They saw what a beautiful area it was, they saw a great city it was. Very liveable. Why would you want live on the coast when you can live in a great regional inland city? And, I do. I live in Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, you can forgive me for that, but the fact is when people come to these sorts of places, when people see the liveability of Toowoomba and places like this, they just fall in love. And they just love it, they live here, they stay here, and they know that there's a real future here.

JOURNALIST:

I mean, I’m a New South Welshman, so I understand.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

We won't ask you who your support in State of Origin.

JOURNALIST:

It’s very controversial around here. But earlier you mentioned finally that there's been agreement. There was some delay between Federal and State governments coming together. Why was that and how did we resolve that?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

I was just going through the various processes, and I know Victoria signed up very early. New South Wales followed suit. But it was- we had a lot of discussions, and a lot of meetings, and a lot of teleconferences with Queensland. But we've come to an agreement. Mark Bailey will be here today representing the Queensland Government, and I know I've worked in very good faith with him on this project and a number of others. We want to make sure that people know that we're getting on with building roads, rail, whatever the case might be. And when you can do it in a bipartisan fashion, it makes it that much easier. When you can do it from federal to state level, and even local government level. I know Paul Antonio really wants to see Toowoomba go ahead, and I know he works every day in every way to make sure that happens. And when you have good state, federal, local relations, and when you can get on with doing the job, I think that's what community expects. I think that's what community likes to see. They don't want to see the politics of Brisbane and Canberra filtering out into the inland regions. They just want to see better roads. They just want to see rail being built, and they just want to see jobs being created. That's what John McVeigh stands for. That's what I represent, and I'm glad that this historic agreement is happening in Toowoomba today

JOURNALIST:

Great. Just one last question. There was some controversy with the route that was being taken in one of four options, and I know that the Millmerran Inland Rail Group and a few other community groups are pretty concerned about where that might go, and floodplains, and that sort of thing. Has that's been resolved? How have you worked with them?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

We’re still working through and obviously we’ve got community consultative committee meetings happening, the ARTC is obviously still working with communities. I spoke to Wes Judd yesterday and I know there are still issues with the final alignment and I certainly know in New South Wales, when we had that corridor and it was about five to six kilometres how many farmers it affected, when we got it down to 50 or 60 there were only a handful. And look, when a particular line or a particular road is going to go through a greenfield site or be larger and go through a site that already exists people do get concerned, I understand that, I'm the son of the generational farming family so I get those issues. But we've got an international expert panel, where we're consulting them – that is at arm's length of government as it should be, very much independent of where we sit and where the ARTC sits – we will take advice from them.

We've got Richard Wankmuller of course who's the CEO of this project and you wouldn't get a more informed more expert person to be running the inland rail in all of the world than Richard Wankmuller. So I've got every faith that the process will be right. We'll continue to consult with affected communities, we'll get this line built and everybody will look back and say this was the right thing to do for the nation, this was the right thing to do for Queensland and this was certainly the right thing to do for Toowoomba.

[...]

JOURNALIST:

Great. Anything else? All good?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

No. All good, thanks.

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JOURNALIST:

Maybe just one more thing about Toowoomba specifically.

JOHN MCVEIGH:

Sure.

JOURNALIST:

So obviously a pretty huge announcement today.

JOHN MCVEIGH:

It is. It’s a great thrill to have the Deputy Prime Minister here, the State Minister to sign this Intergovernmental Agreement, it means inland rail is well and truly underway here in Queensland. Toowoomba will be centre of that activity, the tunnel that will be drilled in the coming years through the Toowoomba Range will be a massive project. About 60 per cent of the cost of the inland rail is being spent here in Queensland and, as I’ve said, Toowoomba is front and centre in that. So the Deputy Prime Minister explained the impact on the Queensland economy, we’ll see about 7200 jobs and many of those will centre around Toowoomba, obviously they'll be spread, the construction through Yulara and through to Brisbane, but the Toowoomba will be centre of this activity so it's a very exciting project off the back of the second range crossing, it means this is the next big thing for our region.

JOURNALSIT:

Great.

JOHN MCVEIGH:
Very good.